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Wake To Be Held For Twins Who Died After Being Left In Hot Car; Lawmaker Pushes For New Law

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - A wake was held Friday for 1-year-old twins who died after being left in a hot car in the Bronx by their father.

On Thursday, prosecutors said they need more time to investigate the deaths before deciding whether to proceed with charges.

Juan Rodriguez, a 39-year-old Iraq war veteran, was arrested on manslaughter charges last week after telling police he forgot to bring twins Luna and Phoenix to daycare before going to work.

So far, there has been no grand jury action against Rodriguez.

His lawyers call it a tragic mistake.

"Everyone should be mindful of the fact that Mr. Rodriguez from day one in this case consented, he gave a full statement including the timeline and the history of how this happened," attorney Joey Jackson said. "We are hopeful that this is not prosecuted."

Web Extra: Councilman Fernando Cabrera On New Legislation To Prevent Hot Car Deaths

"The biggest mistake you can make is thinking this could not happen to you," said Susan Auriemma, vice president of, which tracks hot car deaths of children.

In recent years, an average of 38 children die that way nationwide. Last year, that total shot up to 53.

"This has nothing to do with how much a parent loves a child," Auriemma said. "It has to do with a failure of the brain's memory."

New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera announced new legislation Friday to prevent child hot car deaths. They also offered lifesaving advice for anyone caring for kids:

  • For starters, create a backup plan with daycare operators that if your child does not arrive on time, they call
  • Going down the list until they reach somebody
  • Putting a bag or computer that you need for work in the back seat, which means you'll retrieve it and you will see a child before leaving the car

There are also tips that involve technology, increasingly being added as standard by car manufactures. The rear occupant alert system uses an ultrasonic motion sensor.

"If you walk away, it senses the key fob is leaving" and sets off an alarm, Auriemma said.

There are also apps and aftermarket devices, allowing you to place weight sensors under the car seat that connect wirelessly to your phone and an alarm box latched on to the driver's seat.

Cabrera wants technology in hand and expanded as part of legislation he's helping to introduce called the Hot Cars Act of 2019.

"We are talking about children's lives. They can be saved. This is preventable," Cabrera said.

Visitation at the Sinatra Memorial Home in Yonkers will take place from 3-8 p.m.

Outside the Friday services, CBS2's Dave Carlin asked Maura Daroczy, a friend of the twins' mother, what the family needs most right now.

"Compassion, really, and understanding of what the terrible loss that this is. These people will have to live with this for the rest of their life," she said.

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